Setting up a WordPress site is a fairly straightforward task. Thanks to its famous 5-minute installation, you can easily prepare a fully functional website with little to no effort. However, the default WordPress settings are, more often than not, lacking in important features. Therefore, you might want to perform some additional tweaks in order to improve your website.

While these improvements are not critical to a WordPress website, they definitely provide a substantial advantage in many areas– SEO, security, maintenance, and so on. In fact, they can help making your content more popular in some cases. Furthermore, they are often left to personal choice, which is a bit ambiguous. Let’s take a look at the following laucnh checklist and see what the better options are.

Activate Akismet

Akismet is a plugin that comes with any clean WordPress installation, and serves as a spam filter for comments. Whether your site will receive spam comments depends on a number of factors, ranging from the amount of content you publish, to simply getting lucky and avoiding spam bots. Although it is pretty accurate, Akismet has been said to flag both spam and legitimate comments from time to time.

Still, if you’re the least bit serious about setting up a WordPress site, you should definitely activate the plugin. The false positives in Akistmet are negligible compared to the immense benefits it provides, especially if you get hit by spam over a thousand times a day. All it takes to install it is registering a WordPress.com account, and getting an API key to make Akismet work. It is worth noting that the same API key will work for any number of sites, so it might be a good idea to save time by keeping it handy.

Configure Your Permalinks

This is perhaps one of the most important tasks you should fulfill when doing your launch checklist. Simply put, prettty permalinks will turn your standard page URLs like:

http://www.mysite.com?page_id=5362

Into better looking, more readable URLs such as:

http://www.mysite.com/about

Doing this is highly beneficial to your site. For one, it provides your visitors with descriptive links that are easier to remember and more usable. It also helps with SEO, as Google will favor URLs with related keywords in their structure over unreadable strings of text.

Changing your permalinks can be done in Settings > Permalinks. Which permalink structure you should use is mostly up to you– however, the Post Name structure is often the best choice, as it’s the simplest, most straightforward, and the cleanest.

Disable Date-based Folder Uploads

This small detail is often overlooked by many, yet it can be a lifesaver further down the line. By default, your uploaded files will be separated into folders by month and year inside the uploads folder. However, you can turn off this behavior and have them all be stored directly in the uploads folder, without any subfolders at all.

Deactivating this option is normally preferable, as it dramatically simplifies your uploads folder structure. It also simplifies the URL of an uploaded file, such that if you wish to link to it directly, you won’t have to guess when it was added. As an added bonus, handling and moving all these files through FTP becomes a much simpler task. This is in part due to the FTP protocol having to iterate through subfolders when moving, copying or deleting multiple files, and having a complex file structure can really slow things down. Having no subdirectories will definitely make things go faster.

You can change this option in Settings > Media.

Remove The ‘www’ Prefix From Your Site

WordPress distinguishes your website’s URL when it comes to the www prefix. In other words, it will always try to redirect the visitor to the base URL you’ve specified.

While tweaking this option has little to no effect on your site’s performance, it is generally a good idea to remove the www prefix. Doing so helps you simplify your URL, meaning it will appear cleaner in the browser window. Since the prefix doesn’t serve any real purpose, it might be a good idea to get rid of it altogether.

These are just a few of all the things you can do to improve the baseline WordPress install. However, most of it boils down to personal choice, and it involves installing plenty of plugins to add more functionality.